2011 Longhorn Football Preview
The road to redemption: Reviewing Texas 2011 football schedule
Texas Longhorn football enters 2011 at a crossroads. The second best season in 40 years followed by the worst season in 13 years, resulting in a complete re-work of the coaching staff. My goal here is not to prognosticate as much as discuss what to look for and where the team might be headed based on the schedule.
Rice - September 3
It’s the coming out party for the new Longhorn football team and even newer Longhorn coaching staff. Realistically, we probably won’t see anything particularly new since Head coach Mack Brown prefers to keep his cards close to his vest during September, keeping Oklahoma guessing at what the Texas offense has in store.
I hope he doesn’t. The Longhorns will need real-time practice against a worthy adversary, running full speed, trying to beat them. The new coaches need to see whether this team understands their new offense and new defense. The word “new” comes up way too often in that sentence. Texas needs to get past “new” and move toward “experienced.”
Texas will win this game of course, probably by a lopsided margin. But fans should watch this game closely. Anyone in the stands of last season’s Rice game — played before a home crowd at Reliant Stadium — realizes it was a harbinger of things to come. Texas hardly dominated that game. It took 22 minutes to score a touchdown — against Rice. The Horns were uninspired and seemed disinterested.
If Texas rides in 4-0, and if the team gets strong leadership from its QB and its seniors; if the coaches taught their new schemes and plays well — then Texas has a chance.
Brigham Young University - September 10
The Cougars are independents this year after leaving the Mountain West conference. They have a hot young quarterback, Jake Heaps, and something to prove after getting snubbed by the preseason Coaches poll (#44). If Texas is not ready to play they will lose this game. BYU is not Rice.
at UCLA - Spetember 17
This game pits two urgent, underachieving, almost desperate teams, both with coaches under pressure, against each other. UCLA pummeled Texas in 2010 — and UCLA ended last season 4–8. That game clearly showed the Longhorns weaknesses which every team later exploited. Brown hates hearing games played for revenge, but UCLA is a mediocre football team at best and Texas has every reason to walk into L.A. and destroy them. Three games into the season, the Horns need to show progress as a team with more complicated offensive sets, a robust running game, and an angry defense.
at Iowa State - October 1
The Cyclones owned Texas last year 28-21 — in Austin. They actually led in the 4th quarter 28-6 nearly blowing it late in the game as the desperate Longhorns tried to avoid the ultimate embarrassment — you do not lose to Iowa State ever, let alone at home. This first conference game really shouldn’t be close, Texas ought to dominate an Iowa State team that lost it’s three-year starter at QB and its fourth all-time leading rusher; they just are not very good. But, they are playing in Ames, and they after last season, they think can beat Texas. If the Horns are 3-0, Iowa had better look out because Texas will be ready to prove something in their warm up game before playing Oklahoma. If Texas is not 3-0, this is a toss-up.
Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl, Dallas - October 8th
God help us. OU is good, really good, preseason #1 ranking good. Texas is, well… not as good. It hurts me to write that far more than it hurts to read. Is there hope? There’s always hope. If Texas rides in 4-0, and if the team gets strong leadership from its QB and its seniors; if the coaches taught their new schemes and plays well — then Texas has a chance. The Longhorns must play a perfect game.
By this time in the season we should know a lot about this team. 4-1 and Texas has a shot at a redeeming year. 2-3 and this team may in danger of folding completely and simply playing out the string. Playing out a string is no fun, so let’s assume the Horns are 4-1.
Oklahoma State University - October 15
Texas owns OSU, just owns them. The Longhorns have dashed the Cowboys hopes so many times you have to laugh about it. Of course that was not the case last season but let’s choose to ignore that. OSU comes to Austin with a high ranking and one dangerous offense. Unfortunately their defense is not so dangerous. The Cowboys will give up points, and Texas defense, at this point in the season, and coming off a game against OU (even if it's a loss), should be nasty.
They have the red-ass on for Texas. They hate the Longhorn Network, they’re making noise about leaving the Big 12 and flirting with the Southeast Conference, and they love beating the Horns.
Kansas - October 29
Kansas’s time in the sun ended last season. Someone reminded them, “hey, you’re Kansas”, and the team reverted to familiar form. Kansas is not good. Baylor will beat them, Iowa State will play them tough. Playing Texas in Austin should not be pleasurable.
Texas Tech - November 5
The Red Raiders know how to push Texas buttons and they’re pissed. Tech was one of only two Big 12 teams that lost to Texas last season. Blood was in the water and Tech failed to eat. Of course Tech was also the only team to beat Texas in 2008, keeping them out of the National Championship that year. Tech will come into Austin ready to feed.
at Missouri - November 12th
Mizzou is an enigma to me. They’re really good much of the time and then collapse just when you start rooting for them. It’s hard not like this team though. They battle, and this year, outside of a new quarterback, they have a veteran team. Their preseason ranking of #21 might be low based only on that new quarterback. This will be a very tough game for Texas and they play it in Columbia.
Kansas State - November 19
K-State owns Texas. Who knows why, but Coach Bill Snyder knows how to beat Mack Brown. Playing in Austin helps a lot. The Wildcats are on their way back to being a good, respected football team; this is probably not the year… yet.
at Texas A&M - November 24
Oh where to start? I could write a whole book on what’s going on with the Aggies. Most obviously they are a good football team, entering this season ranked # 9 in the Coaches poll. But they also have the red-ass on for Texas. They hate the Longhorn Network, they’re making noise about leaving the Big 12 and flirting with the Southeast Conference, and they love beating the Horns. This will be a very tough game for Texas and it will have all the hype you would expect from a rivalry game. The Aggies are a good football team, maybe very good. They return virtually their entire starting offense and have an outstanding defense. At 9-3 last year, Coach Mike Sherman knows how to win (he coached Brett Favre for awhile in Green Bay). They beat Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska last year; and Sherman will have the Aggies — who won 3 of the last 5 against Texas — playing at Kyle Field, ready.
at Baylor - Decomber 3
This just doesn’t seem right. The season ends with Texas A&M, always has. This Baylor game will either be the last dot on the ellipses of a season… or… it will be a dangerous game, Texas must be ready to play. Baylor beat Texas only once over the last 17 years, that was last season. Coming off the emotion of the A&M game, it could be tough as Baylor continues improving.
Tomorrow, my prognostications.